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she survived, had offspring, and here i am today. i would summarize indian removal by trying to place it in a larger perspective, and that is by non-indians who want equality in the united states, wrapping themselves in the flag, and native peoples were here first, and survival, the fact that they have survived as separate cultures uniquely on the planet as american indians is, to me, the most noteworthy. they have not melded into the mainstream. by and large, tribes are still operating. some are in better shape than others, some are larger, some are smaller. some have suffered more, some have suffered slightly less, but they are still here, and if i wanted to change one thing, i would like the mainstream of
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america to realize that american indians, as tribes and tribal people, are still here, still a vibrant part of the economy, a part of the culture, a part of the arts, literature, music, this is, after all, oklahoma is, after all, an american indian state at its start, and american indians have not disappeared or vanished into the mainstream with dinosaurs, as some people are prone to ask me sometimes. find out where skrchlt span's local content vehicles are going next online at kept. you're watching american history tv all weekend every weekend on c-spa c-span3. from the milwaukee meeting of the organization of american historians, columbia university history professor eric foner and
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university of iowa history profession linder kerr be argue that birthright citizenship changed history for the better and that the provision is unique to the united states. this is half an hour. >> american history tv is in milwaukee at the organization of american historians annual meeting and we're joined by professor eric foner from columbia university and linda kerber with the university of iowa. thanks to both of you for joining us. you'll be talking about at this conference about birthright citizenship and the 14th amendment. why don't you set the stage for us, mr. foner, and what is birthright citizenship? >> in a nutshell, this is the principle that any person born in the united states, regardless of the status of their parents, their ancestor, regardless of their race, gender, religion, any other category, is a citizen of the united states just by
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have i chew of being born here. of course you can also become a citizen by naturalization if you're an immigrant .but the important point is this was not a principle that goes all the way back to the constitution. it was really implemented or institutionalized in the aftermath of the civil war and the 14th amendment which wrote it into the constitution.first clause of the 14th amendment says explicitly any person born in the united states with one or two minor extensions, particularly native americans who at that time were thought to be citizens of their own sovereignties, but any person born in the united states is a citizen. and as i said, this was not necessarily the case before the civil war. the most dramatic example of course was the dred scott decision of 1857 in which the supreme court stated explicitly that no black person could be a citizen. free or slave.
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born here or not. it didn't matter. but the birthright citizenship principle eliminates that and says there are no other boundaries to citizen right other than birth in the united states. >> and this law and the 14th amendment written specifically for african-americans, the freed slaves? >> well, yes and no. it was written -- those laws were written as part of the effort of the country to come to terms with the abolition of slavery and to deal with the question of what would the status of these 4 million freed people be. and yet there the 14th amendment does not say anything about race, it does not say anything about black people. it establishes a principle and universal standard of citizenship which is to it apply to everybody. it applies to chinese immigrants on the west coast, it applies to mexican americans who might come into the united states and have a child in the united states. so, yes, the catalyst is the
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ending of slavery, but the principle is not just limited to black people. >> before the 14th amendment, who was considered a citizen? >> that varied from state to state. there was no national standard. for example, massachusetts always insisted black people ins massachusetts were citizens of massachusetts and other states denied that and then the supreme court made that a national principal. but it really depended on the states, who was a citizen and what rights it they had and one of the purposes of the 14th amendment is to create this national standard so that you wouldn't have all these variations within the country. >> and obviously citizenship didn't mean the right to vote, did it, professor gerber. >> not necessarily. and that's why there is 15th amendment that says no state may deprive a person of the right to vote on the basis of race or fashion or physical begin or
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religion. there was a struggle, there was an effort to put sex into the 15th amendment which would say in person has the -- no state maiden the right to vote on the basis of sex, that lost. and at that moment, elizabeth keady stanton says this is a chance to make sure it's a day pay issues vote that all citizens will have. and if we lose that chance,dayp citizens will have. and if we lose that chance, she says we won't have it again until 1940. she pulls 1940 out of the thin air. and i've always felt she reaches over and converses enough -- >> there wasn't enough support to put it in the 15th?
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>> that's right. people who are drafting the 15th are conscious of the denial of rights to black people and they knew there had been a war over this and the people had died. and women they didn't think had died. so there simply weren't enough votes. charles sumner tried in fact to count the noses in congress to see if he could do it and about about it put the particular amendment at risk. but the opening section of the 14th amendment, the one that starts all personsput the parti risk. but the opening section of the 14th amendment, the one that starts all personsthe particula risk. but the opening section of the 14th amendment, the one that starts all persons born in the underare citizens of the united states, in the state in which they live, it says all
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being held in a barber shop you about because the idea was if only men voted, you put your registration where the guys are.ou because the idea was if only men voted, you put your registration where the guys are.u because the idea was if only men voted, you put your registration where the guys are. because the idea was if only men voted, you put your registration where the guys are.because the n voted, you put your registration where the guys are.because the n voted, you put your registration where the guys are. she goes in to the barber shop and attempts to register to vote. and in various places -- >> i think she does vote. and then is put on trial for illegally voting because women were not legally he will available to vote and it becomes a court case. >> so ultimately her vote doesn't count. >> the judge rules against her, but he refuses to put her in
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jail. but the point is that it was tested. there were women who said leave aside the negatives of the 15th amendment. the positive of the 14th says all persons are entitled to equal protection of the laws. and if all persons are entitled, then doesn't that include our right to vote. >> with the recognition that the u.s. is an immigrant country, is the idea of a birthright citizenship a uniquely american idea? >> it has become very uniquely american. it didn't used to be. for example, no country in europe today recognizes birthright citizenship, although many did until fairly recently and they're restricting it precisely because they she
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themselves are going over immigration from africa, from middle east, from asia. and so hfr-but it's a good point that the notion of birthright citizenship suggests some aspiration what have it means to be an american. this is not a country that defines membership in the nation through any particular religion. there are plenty of countries where religion is linked directly to citizenship. it doesn't link it to language. it doesn't link to some notion of being part of a population it that has a historic root like in germany, that people of german ancestry can use move to germany and immediately become part of the an population. but the noble principle is anybody can be an american.
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if you come and accept the basic principles of the society, you're equally entitled to be an american with anybody else. >> the issue of birth right citizenship has been tested recently. what's been the controversy and is this sort of the first time since the passage of the 14th that the concept of birthright citizenship has been -- >> let me just say and linda knows about the current controversies. let me just say it is not the first time at all. the issue came up in the late 19th century over children of chinese immigrants because at that time no one from asia could become aiz izize naturalized ci. but what did that mean about children of those people born here. and the courts ruled eventually the 14th amendment applies to them, also.
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>> it seems to me a really important decision that we should be teaching in our schools, it's in some ways the proud counterpart to the dred scott decision, because at the time that he was demanding recognition of his citizenship, it there was not only an impossibility for his pashrentso become citizen, but there was so much anti-couldhinese sentiment. which some members of the u.s. supreme court personally shared. but the issue or reining opinion that says that birthright citizenship is what it should do what it was meant to do, in the debates over the 1th amendment, there is a senator from -- there were several, but one i remember particularly from pennsylvania
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who says in congress, okay, in effect, okay, i get it, we're going to make black people citizens. but you don't mean the hea it chlt hen chinese, do you? you you better believe it. because what they you said stood this they were doing, and this is an important piece that has been absent from our current conversation, they understood what the 14th amendment does for it will country. a lot of people think of it as a generous act to people who are here, that their children get to be citizens. fair enough. it is generous. but it is also what you see in the congressional debates is they wanted to be able to claim the allegiance of everyone who was here. and if you're a citizen, then
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the reciprocal is that the nation can claim your allegiance. the reciprocal is also that you don't really have to keep track of who was born here, whose parents were born here, who is a citizen by birth. when i register my child in school, i bring a birth certificate to show this child is born here. i don't have to bring my mother's birth certificate. i don't have to bring my grandmother's birth and ith certifica certificate. i don't have to prove -- no one will question me about that. >> bring us up-to-date on why the last couple years it's become such an issue. is it strictly because of immigration from mexico and central america? >> we may have different views on this. i think we have a great deal of
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anxiety in this country about a lot of things. we have anxiety about the economy, we have anxiety about the very different racial mix that we have in this country from what weed had 40 years ago, say. and there's insecurity. and one of the ways that insecurity has expressed itself is a kind of nastiness and anger and resentment. >> unfortunately, i believe that's correct. but the issue has become very closely tied to the question of undocumented aliens illegal immigrants, whatever you want to call it. and for example, in arizona, a state where the anti-immigrant sentiment has been most extreme in politics, they have had bills introduced not to recognize as citizens the children of people
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who are undocumented in the united states. now, that would be a flagrant violation of the 14th amendment and i think those bill have not gotten very far for that reason. but there was actually senator ri lindsey graham a couple years ago was calling for hearings on on whether to change the 14th amendment, to get rid of birth right citizenship. changing the constitution is a long process, requires approval of three-quarters of the states, two-thirds of congress, would not likely happen very easily. but there was also just political pandering going on to this sense of anxiety, that people who are fearful about the future and their economic stability, it's easy to find a scapegoat. and illegal aliens are a very recognizable scapegoat at the moment. >> how quickly was the 14th amendment passed?
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>> well, it was written in 1866, passed by congress. it was ratified in 1868. but a lot of historical water passed under the bridge between those two years. the entire overthrow of the president's reconstruction policy, the institution of new governments in the south. so a lot -- but it took two years basically from congress to the ratification by the states. >> you write a good bit about abraham lincoln and your most recent book was about abraham lincoln. is there any indication all of this is a fallout from the union victory in the civil war. is there any indication about how abraham lincoln felt about immigration and citizenship? >> yes. even though the no knowings or the anti-immigrant party at that time were quite powerful, wherein con repudiated their views and in fact made it clear that the basic libertiescon rep
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views and in fact made it clear that the basic liberties applied to everybody no matter what your origin, immigrants were welcome, they were part of the american -- you know,s american firmament here. lincoln did not pander to anti-immigrant sentiment the way many politicians at that time did. as to black citizenship, before the war, he was ambivalent. but during his -- the attorney general said any black citizen is a citizen. he said the dread black decision was wrongly decided. so the citizen ship of african-americans was recognized by the lincoln administration even before the 149 amendment. 14th amendment. the solidification of the nation
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requires a so he llidification e notion of citizen ship. there has to be one standard for the nation not state by state. >> is this when we start beginning to recognize the country is a nation of immigrants, understanding that immigration began to increase in the late 1800s? >> i'm not so sure. i think it ththat comes later a actually probably during and after the world war ii even when we start taking pride in the mixture of immigrants. let me add one more piece of why i think the 14th amendment is someone of which we should be very proud and why i think people should rally around it and protect it. if all persons born in the united states are citizens, in
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is -- with speaking seeking asylum, with speak with unstable nagzltys. many of them are children,
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teenagers who are caught in the crack of the rules of nations. and the united states is not contributing largely to that population. if we destabilize the amendment, we will be part of the problem. >> although we have a considerable number of people in this country estimated from 10 to 12 to 14 million who are in an ambiguous state because they were not born here and they were born in the united states without proper documentation. but the principle of the 14th amendment means that their children are recognized as citizens of the united states. >> so it stops with one generation. and we hope we can figure out what to do. >> i wanted to ask you a little bit about the book that you've written on women's rights, women's citizenship, the book of no constitutional right to be ladies and the obligations of citizenship. and in publisher's weekly, i was
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reading some of what they had to say about your book. they say that you link the women's exemption from civic duties, such as jury or military service to the denial of women civics rights such as suffrage, a jury by her peers, aid, citizenship and even her body. expand on that a little bit. what were you aiming for there? >> at the time of the founding, at the time of the revolution, when at marriage the husband thought virtually absolute right to access to the body of his wife. there is no concept of rape in marriage until the -- of the 1970s put it there. it seemed to follow, therefore, that, of course, he could control her property. of course he could control her will. of course you would never give her the vote because she would have to vote. she will be forced into voting just the way he did. it didn't occur to them that, therefore, they should take away from rights from him and make
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part of her world. and in the old law of domestic relations, then the married woman that had many obligations that we think of as civic obligations directly to her husband and her husband interfaced between her and escape, this breaks down until our own time. the first time that the u.s. supreme court ruled that denial -- that discrimination on the basis of sex might be a denial of equal protection of the laws. it's 1971. and they don't do a capacious ruling on this point until 1973. so the -- our understanding of how women related to the state before that is complicated and it's not the same as the way in which men related to the state. >> this is a point, i think, just to underscore it.
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it shows you why there was so much opposition to women suffrage on the part of men because giving women the right to vote suggests they may have a will of their own, right? >> right. >> they are not necessarily going to vote the same way their husbands want them to and it gives them relations directly to the state, sir couple lenting the husband. to us, it may not seem like such a radical idea. most countries in the world, not every single one, but most allow women to vote these days. but at the time, it was seen as the threat to a family, males being the head of the family. that's why it -- stan was right. it took many decades to achieve, even though it doesn't seem like that radical an idea. >> well, at the time, one piece of this was that when an american -- when an american-born made married a foreign woman, we get back to citizenship now, she automatically became a citizen. she did not have to be naturalized. when an american-born woman
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married an american-born man, he lost his citizenship. if his country did not instantly make her a subject or citizenship, she was exposed to statelessness. and the u.s. supreme court said in 15, this is okay. this is okay. and when american women got to vote, that the integrity of married women citizenship was one of the key things that they wanted to fix. and when they fixed it, congress would only fix it so that if you married a man who was eligible for citizenship, you could keep your citizenship. but at that time, chinese, japanese -- >> you couldn't marry an asian. you could marry a european, but not an african. >> you couldn't born an asian. ulysses grant daughter had married an englishman. when she was widowed, she had to petition congress to restore her
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citizenship. so these are ways in which the history of women in the united states could be very -- the grounding of that has been quite significant. >> and although the 14th amendment did a lot to define who is a citizen, the issue of citizenship -- well, still isn't resolv resolved, but you pointed out in something that the euro -- for example, asians, it wasn't until the mid 1960s that the chinese -- >> well, each country had a quo the ta at that time and they gave china a quota of like 100 that could become citizens. it's really -- naturalized citizens. it's really, as you say, the 1965 immigration reform act which really tries to eliminate racial and national designations from who can become a naturalized citizen and who doesn't. >> did it actually do that? >> i mean, it did in the law.
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in fact, as we know it, led to a very significant change in the origins of immigration. you know, previously most immigration is in from europe. after 65, we have so much immigration from asia. south asia, east asia, africa, the middle east, all over the world. so the racial configuration of our country has changed enormously since that law. >> professor kerber mentioned that one senator from pennsylvania that vilified the chinese, have you found that through history, a new immigrant group comes along and is sill phied almost equally? >> yeah. we all know that. we all know that. and i think one of the things i conclude from that or i like to think about is that we've had conflicting and contesting traditions in the united states, so that we have principles which are grand and eloquent and ethical and capacious. and they're difficult to live by
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and in every decade, in every generation, if you want, there's resistant. they have to be argued about. people have to be persuaded of them over and over again. they don't -- they're not static. >> we have a couple of minutes left. and i will wrap up by asking each of you if in that the issue is still fairly current, if you were called before congress to testify on the importance of the 14th amendment, what are a couple of the things that you would say? >> well, i would say, first of all, as i mentioned, that this principle of birth right citizenship is a statement about the nature of the united states as a country. the ideas that we stand for, and that we have resisted at least since the civil war and slavery linking membership in the nation to being a member of a particular race, a particular group or a particular religion and that i think to move away from that would really be a violation of deeply held principles in our history.
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so even though there are tensions today and fears and some people are angry at one group or another, you think, i think holding to these deep american principles is something we ought to try to strive for. >> linda, what would you say to that? >> i would ditto that and i would say that i would want us to appreciate what the contributions that these principles -- acting on these principles has made to the robustness of this country, to its vitality, to its power, to its power in the world as people want to come here and to contribute to it. it has meant that it has held us back from being a greater contributor to the rest of the world than we other side would have been. >> thanks so much for being with us here on american history tv. >> you're very welcome. >> thank you for asking us. >> this is

May 20, 2012 10:30am-11:00am EDT

TOPIC FREQUENCY United States 14, Us 7, U.s. 4, Massachusetts 3, Asia 3, Europe 2, Africa 2, America 2, Eric Foner 2, Germany 2, Pennsylvania 2, Kerber 1, Elizabeth Keady Stanton 1, Iowa 1, Oklahoma 1, Linda Kerber 1, Linder Kerr 1, Gerber 1, Mr. Foner 1, Ri Lindsey Graham 1
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